The Islanders become the first ISL team to allocate a seperate section of their stadium to host away fans.

Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Mumbai City FC have become the first team in the history of the league to create a dedicated section for away fans during its home matches at the Mumbai Football Arena.

Football and Mumbai have had a unique relationship since the dawn of the 20th century as many a home team fans have been outnumbered by the opposition fans. This unique attribute is not due to travelling fans, a culture which is still under-developed, but mainly due to people from different states residing in Mumbai, who have their loyalties pledged to the visiting teams.

For instance, East Bengal Ultras’ have a Maharashtra branch and Mohun Bagan have a dedicated fan club known as the Mumbai-Pune Mariners, who have thronged stadiums and have, many a time, outnumbered home fans in the erstwhile National Football League and I-league games. Even in the ISL games at the Mumbai Football Arena, Kerala Blasters’ fans vastly outnumbered the home fans and took away the prime seats.

In last season’s semi-final second leg clash against ATK, a lot of cheering and counter-cheering was observed between the home and away fans as both sets turned out in huge numbers and packed the stadium to capacity. In principle, the ISL attracting such huge crowds and fans for both teams reflects on a job well done by Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) but it brings around its own set of challenges.

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Football is a high adrenaline sport on and off the field and things can go a bit awry in both places. Clashes and jeering in abusive tones have been observed across the footballing world and some have turned ugly. This often leads to them being overtly passionate in the stands and jolly banter turning into farcical scenes of regionalism or in worse cases racism.

it must be recalled that one such instance was witnessed in the stands at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai during the game between Chennaiyin FC and NorthEast United when a few female supports of the Highlanders were harassed and racially abused by an unruly group of home fans.

In order to avoid this kind of scenario, Mumbai City FC have announced their decision to dedicate an away stand for fans of the opposing teams who are there to enjoy the game. This initiative is a first-of-its-kind in the league. This initiative is a huge plus for the away team fans as well as the home fans as having their own demarcated territories will help in the promotion of positive banter among fans and the teams too will know where they have to go to celebrate their goals.

Commenting on this initiative, Mumbai City FC co-owner Ranbir Kapoor said, “I am really glad that we could be the first team in the ISL to have taken this progressive step towards supporting the fan culture in our country. It will motivate the away team supporters to flock to our Arena in numbers to watch their favourite teams live in action. We believe this move will create a great atmosphere in the stadium and I am quite sure the fans will definitely appreciate our latest effort to promote football and enhance the fan experience in our home stadium.”

“We are delighted to have a special section for the visiting team’s fans,” said Mumbai City FC’s CEO Indranil Das Blah. “It will not only bring a great atmosphere in the stands with both teams getting cheered on but will also ensure the safety and comfort of the away fans, allowing them to have a great, hassle-free matchday experience at the Mumbai Football Arena,” he added.

The dedicated section for all away supporters will be Stand 4B which will be accessible via the main gate 1 and the inner gate 8. A total of 200 seats will be allocated to the away supporters’ section and the tickets for this section will be available on BookMyShow under a special category today onwards.